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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Fostoria OKs charter; 0.5% income tax looks like it'll pass

TIFFIN - Fostoria voters gave a thumbs up on plans to replace the city's statutory form of government, while the proposed renewal of the city's half-percent income tax apparently squeaked into the win column, according to unofficial results from the three counties' boards of elections.

The charter issue allows Fostoria to become a home-rule city so it could organize its own government and specify its departments and staffing.

The amendment is considered a small step forward, beginning with how appointed positions would be filled, including police and fire chiefs. The safety-service director will continue to be a mayoral appointment, but the position will need City Council's concurrence.

"We're just thrilled about the charter issue passing," Mayor John Davoli said. "We had a lot of people working on it. It was a bipartisan effort."

Councilman Paul Feasel, chairman of the finance committee, called the charter approval issue a victory for the city.

"We feel that home rule is vital for the growth of the community," he said. "It puts any changes in the hands of the voters."

Any future changes must be initiated by residents or members of City Council and approved by voters.

"I feel it gives a new direction for the community," Mr. Feasel said.

Mr. Feasel also was more cautious about declaring outright victory on the income tax issue. It showed an unofficial 20-vote lead when all precincts had reported their results.

Residents living in Seneca County rejected the income tax, while voters in Hancock and Wood counties approved the issue.

The tax generates about $1.3 million annually. The tax was set to expire Dec. 31, 2007.

"That should carry through," he said, cautioning that the provisional ballots, when counted, could tip the balance.

"We feel it will hold. We plan on moving forward, based on tonight's results," Mr. Feasel said.

Fostoria's five-year, 0.5 percent income tax renewal was dedicated to safety forces and community development.

One countywide tax issue that voters rejected was the county park district. Voters also turned their backs on support for a mental health and recovery services issue. The mental health issue also appeared on the Wyandot County ballot.

In a five-way slugfest for county commissioner, Michael A. Bridinger, a Tiffin Republican, was the apparent winner over incumbent Joseph E. Schock (D., Tiffin), Steven J. Steinmetz (I., Tiffin), Robert J. Lee (I., Tiffin), and Herbert A. Faber (I., Tiffin).

County Auditor Larry A. Beidelschies (R., Tiffin) was unopposed.

The county board of elections said 20,399 ballots were cast out of 35,027 registered voters for a 58 percent turnout.

Last night's totals included absentee ballots.

Nearly 400 provisional ballots were cast and have yet to be counted, according to the elections board.



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